2011 Team Reviews - Virgin Racing

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
I am going to post up team reviews of all the teams, I am going to put up the new teams first and the order they finished the championship from lowest to highest. Tell me what you think of the teams and add in some stuff of your own! Also, I would appreciate it, if you could correct me if I am wrong! :)


First up, is the squad that finished at the bottom of the constructors’ championship.

Marussia Virgin Racing

After another season in which the team quickly found there was no hiding place from the incomparable challenges presented by motorsport’s top level.

Two years ago, the Virgin Group's famous logo adorned the sides of the Brawn cars that had just swept to a shock championship success
.
But when Richard Branson's company decided to take the underdog challenge a stage further and strike out on its own with a new team, it found itself at the opposite end of the standings - Virgin Racing was 12th and last in the constructors' table in its debut year. On paper, the squad had promising ingredients. This year, again, they are at the bottom of the constructors table once again.

At its core, it had grown out of Yorkshireman John Booth's Manor Motorsport team - highly respected for its achievements in junior motorsport, and trusted by McLaren to handle Lewis Hamilton's first steps in car racing.

The car was provided by Wirth Research, founded by Nick Wirth - a designer who had impressed against the odds at the shortlived Simtek team in the mid-1990s, and although a later Benetton stint was less successful, his sportscar design for Honda's Acura arm threatened the might of category giant Porsche. Throw in the Virgin brand, which had long been something of a holy grail for Formula 1's sponsor-chasers, and the team seemed to have a perfect combination of racing nous, design intelligence, and solid backing.

But Virgin did not provide a wide-open chequebook, and though the FIA's proposed £40 million budget cap never made it into reality, Virgin Racing still worked to that expenditure limit out of pure necessity.
One of the things that attracted Virgin to Wirth was his groundbreaking insistence on using the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) design system for the entire car, totally eschewing the wind-tunnels that still formed the basis of most F1 chassis creation.

Although Wirth was an utterly committed exponent of CFD and convinced it was just as effective as wind-tunnels, he also acknowledged that it was a cheaper option and therefore vital for a team working to a tight budget.The team has acknowledged that this has not helped them at all this season, and have decided to part ways with Wirth Research, and have struck up a partnership with McLaren next year to use their windtunnel.

Marussia Virgin were expecting to be on the pace with both Team Lotus cars like last season, if not better. But instead they have falling back in that regard and where usually fighting among themselves. There were even times when the troubled Hispania squad got too close for comfort.
Whenever Virgin was snapping at its heels in the second half of the year, Lotus argued that it had stopped developing its 2010 car to focus on 2011, but Virgin insisted its policy was not dramatically
different and most of its resources were directed towards the future too.

The statistics last year made of Team Lotus superiority clear: if the new teams had been in an official standalone class then it would have ended the year with 12 class wins to Virgin's six, and 14 class poles to Virgin's five. This year it was 16 wins to Team Lotus wins to Virgins 3 and 19 poles to Virgin's zero. The statistics clearly show how much they have slipped back compared to who should be their closest rivals.

But pure speed was never likely to decide which of the new teams emerged on top in the overall championship fight. Unsurprisingly, Virgin, Hispania and Lotus all finished 2010 tied on zero points, so their order was decided on countback of best results.

This meant the real priority was snatching the highest finish possible on days when the established teams imploded.

The best opportunities for this came in Canada and Hungary, the highest Virgin achieved was 14th and 15th in Canada, their best double finish to date. In Hungary, they finished 17th and 19th.

While most of the plaudits for the giant-killing achievements in the new teams' pack went to Lotus's Heikki Kovalainen, Glock also did an exceptional job. The hard-charging German had always been entertaining to watch in difficult cars, and he manhandled all that he could from the Virgin, as some exceptional practice times in tricky conditions proved.

He did a particularly fine job in the Singapore race, holding off a pack of faster cars until being eventually passed, but finished in a respectable 15th place.

D'Ambrosio had a tougher season.

Being a rookie driver in a low-budget rookie team, paired with an experienced and quick team-mate, was never going to be easy, and d'Ambrosio faired well and kept Timo honest at times, and scored Virgin's highest position of the season, 14th. He spent the vast majority of his debut year in a twilight zone somewhere behind the Lotus duo and Glock, but ahead of Hispania. The nadir was definitely at the Hungaroring, where he spun in the pits, looking like a spectacular handbrake turn. Compared to the man he replaced, he did a respectable job. While di Grassi may have finished ahead of Glock twice during the race, and d'Ambrosio once, while they both in the race, d'Ambrosio on average was better and closer to Glock throughout the season.

With Virgin already auditioning GP2 front-runner Charles Pic, d'Ambrosio might not get another chance.

Glock pondered looking elsewhere, but has decided to stay put for what will be a very revealing 2012 at Virgin. He doesn't seem very happy where the team was at during mid-season, and was very vocal about his disappointment at his home Grand Prix where an interesting radio message was released after the first qualifying session.

Wirth and his CFD theories could never be fairly judged in one season alone given the short lead time that all three new teams' had, but this year, it can be judged, and it wasn't the greatest decisions.

Its financial situation should also be better, thanks Marussia the Russian sportscar firm taking over in 2012.

But while most expect better form from Marussia Virgin in 2012 and (unlike Hispania) its longer-term future looks stable, this is still a team with a great deal to prove next year. Their tie-up with McLaren will surely benefit them.

Highlights: Scoring their best double finish to date at the Canadian Grand Prix, finishing 14th and 15th.
Lowlights: Getting beat by Hispania Racing two seasons consecutively.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Good stuff Sly.

Poor old Jermone has already gone and Charles Pic is in for next year which I'm a bit sad about really because in interviews he seems like a lovely bloke.

I'll await your review of HRT!
 

Andrea_Moda_Rules

Podium Finisher
I have to say i was disappointed with Virgin this year. I expected them to be a lot a lot closer to Lotus this year, If anything they went backwards.

I should of expected it from the start of the season though, when they came out with a car that looked exactly like last years but with a re-profiled nose.

Cannot wait for the rest Sly.
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
I too thought Virgin would have been a bit closer, but with the CFD you can't do much, plus Team Lotus/Caterham, seem to have a better budget and a motivated driver. Not sure how motivated Glock is, but he seems to be a unhappy chappy compared to his usual self this season. I also think, they ruined the livery on this car, I quite liked last seasons. :(

I'll try to add more technical stuff in aswell, I did that last year. But last year I did the reviews around January, and one team review took me a fair few days.
 
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